Top Chef Houston Features H-Town’s Diverse Eateries and Restaurateurs

chef putting final touches on a dish

Houston may be the world’s best kept culinary secret, but the word is getting out with Bravo currently airing “Top Chef Houston”, the 19th season of its popular cooking competition.

The reality show, with new episodes airing each Thursday at 7 p.m. CST, is highlighting H-Town’s diverse foodie culture including Cajun, Cantonese, Creole, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Nigerian, and Vietnamese … and, naturally, Tex-Mex and Texas barbecue.

"To have a show like Top Chef Houston being featured, it really doesn’t get better than that," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. "We are the culinary capital of the world with more than 11,000 restaurants in this city," he said. The contestant’s, which includes Houston’s own Evelyn Garcia, are competing for a chance to win the top prize of $250,000, a feature in Food & Wine magazine, an appearance at the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen and the fame that goes along with being named “Top Chef.”

Houston Has Become a Global Culinary Destination

“Top Chef Houston” is highlighting Houston’s eclectic culinary scene such as the Asian Night Market. “Hosting Top Chef is a prime example of Houston's continuing growth into a global culinary destination,” said the producers of the show in a press release. “Charged by the blend of nationalities that call the city home (one in four Houstonians is an immigrant), the city has become a mecca for discerning and adventurous eaters – a truly international metropolis where travelers can taste more than 140 different types of food and become immersed in cultural traditions from around the world.”

Episode 3, which already aired, featured the Asian Night Market which offers international street food made by local Houstonians. Stalls sell favorite dishes from China, Japan, Vietnam, Pacific Island nations and other Asian countries.

The next Asian Night Market is scheduled on May 28-29 at Railway Heights Market. The market is not on a set schedule or location, so check its Instagram page for the upcoming schedule. The Asian Night Market is not the only Houston eatery featured this season with several other local locations on the early season shooting schedule including:

  • Brennan’s of Houston which has been a Southern stalwart since 1967 with its Cajun-inspired, fine dining menu.
  • J-Bar-M Barbecue where pitmaster Willow Villarreal produces some of the best craft barbecue in Texas.
  • POST Houston Food Hall home to 25 establishments including Andes Café, Arabella Mediterranean, ChòpnBlọk, Golfstrømmen Seafood Market, Hawker Street Food Bar, Lea Jane’s Hot Chicken, Lucy Pearl’s, Ramen Moto, Soy Pinoy, Taco Fuego, and Thai Kun.

Houston Chef Garcia Goes for the Big Prize

Houston chefs, led by contestant Garcia, are front and center on Bravo’s Top Chef season 19. Garcia knows all about winning cooking show’s as she was a winner on the Food Network’s “Chopped” competition. Formerly of the defunct Decatur Bar & Pop-Up Factory, the native Houstonian is now overseeing Kin HTX with chef Henry Lu. With a restaurant in the works, Garcia and Lu bring Kin HTX to rotating locations including:

  • Urban Harvest every Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon
  • Heights Mercantile every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Rice Village Farmer’s Market 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month, 10 a.m. to 2 pm.
  • MKT Market every 3rd Thursday of the month, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Fans of the 32-year-old Top Chef Contestant Garcia can also find her condiments (like KinChup, her take on ketchup with cumin and tamarind), spiced rubs and Thai spiced peanuts at:

“Just the experience of being a part of Top Chef is a blessing but to be the one person from Houston — mind-blowing,” Garcia told Eater. “I think that’s what I’m most excited about … seeing how Top Chef showcases this amazing city that I obviously love so much.”

Top Chef Houston Features Local Chefs Each Episode

While Garcia is the only local chef competing for the quarter million top prize, there have been plenty of Houston chefs featured in episodes of Top Chef Houston. Some have been guest judges such as Chris Shepherd of Underbelly Hospitality and Christine Ha of modern Vietnamese gastropub The Blind Goat and Vietnamese cuisine with a Gulf Coast and Texas take, Xin Chao. Ha is another Houston chef that has claimed top prize in a cooking show, winning MasterChef season 3.

Shepherd’s Underbelly empire includes five offerings:

Other Houston chefs to make an appearance this season on Top Chef Houston:

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